This week's guide contains:
YES, PLEASE: North Elementary, Organos, Destroyer, The War On Drugs, Surf City, Lynn Blakey, Brett Harris, Django Haskins, The Tender Fruit, Rotting Christ, Skull Defekts, Luego, The Tomahawks
VS.: Anne McCue vs. Jukebox The Ghost vs. Old 97S
INTRODUCING: The Fooligans
4.07 NORTH ELEMENTARY, ORGANOS @ TIR NA NOG
North Elementary fashions billowing indie pop. Keyboards swell and guitars crash as John Harrison's breathy tenor unwinds head-swaying melodies. With six albums and a passel of 7-inch singles, they're one of the most prolific Triangle acts, and perhaps the most underappreciated. Organos are Maria Albani's (Pleasant, Gerty, Schooner) arty indie pop side project. Her music shimmers with texture propelled by vigorous rhythms, her sultry alto and hard-cornering angularities. Though she records all the music herself, she's assembled a backing band comprising Harrison and ringers from Schooner, Ticonderoga, and Nathan Oliver. The bands play at The Cave on Saturday, April 9, too. These shows serve as release parties for a new 7-inch split. —Chris Parker
04.07 DESTROYER, THE WAR ON DRUGS @ CAT'S CRADLE
On the level, I think Philadelphia's The War on Drugs is one of the best bands making music right now. True rock polyglots, the band pulls from a half-dozen proud electric traditions—from Tom Petty and Creedence Clearwater Revival to Spacemen 3 and Flying Saucer Attack—to make songs that are psychedelic without feeling distant, and direct without feeling simple. They cannot come recommended highly enough. What's more, the headliner—Dan Bejar, or Destroyer, or the New Pornographer with the hair—is sort of a genius, building cities of hyper-referential yarns like Coleridge handed him the pen to the kingdom of Kubla Khan. Bejar's latest, Kaputt, relates smooth saxophone and disco beats to indie kids in a way chillwave's never quite done. Don't miss this one. With Shit Horse. $13–$15/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
04.07 SURF CITY @ KINGS
Lots of bands nowadays traffic in the same low fidelities as Surf City. However, this band comes from New Zealand, the home of Flying Nun Records, which gives these guys more of a right to make that sort of noise. On their recently released second album, Kudos, Surf City nods to that label's classic roster, from the steady rhythmic rumble of The Clean to the fuzzy pop of The Chills. And "nods" is the appropriate word, as Surf City's form of imitation is the most flattering, paying tribute to their influences without being slavishly beholden to them. With White Cascade. $8/ 9:30 p.m. —David Raposa
04.08 LYNN BLAKEY @ JESSEE'S COFFEE & BAR
Of all the accomplished musicians who have sprung from the Triangle's indie and roots communities in the past couple of decades, the best pure singer among them may well be Lynn Blakey. With a pedigree that stretches back to the Athens, Ga., 1980s heyday and with close ties to N.C. studio pioneers Mitch Easter and Chris Stamey, Blakey has made some great recordings over the years with bands such as The Glory Fountain and Tres Chicas. The new five-song EP, Meadowview, is, surprisingly, her first release under her own name; it features fetching violin and vocal accents by her husband, German expat Ecki Heins. He's undoubtedly the subject of the leadoff track, "Immigrant Heart"; there's also a fresh take on "Bloom," one of the Chicas' finest tunes. Jeffrey Dean Foster opens; Holden Richards closes. Free/ 8 p.m. —Peter Blackstock
04.08 BRETT HARRIS, DJANGO HASKINS, THE TENDER FRUIT @ CASBAH
Witness the bounty of Triangle songwriters: Brett Harris is a skilled popsmith with a penchant for gorgeous '60s Brill Building and British Invasion pop. His velveteen vocals are as inviting as the rich melodies. Django Haskins' fourth solo album turned into the orchestral pop act The Old Ceremony, adding focus to his craftsmanship. Before that, he was a biting power-pop songwriter in the mold of Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello. The Tender Fruit is Christy Smith; she creates understated pop with graceful solemnity, powered by sturdy, obdurate vocals and low-key strumming. $5–$7/ 9p.m. —Chris Parker
04.09 ROTTING CHRIST @ VOLUME 11 TAVERN
Rotting Christ return to Raleigh from the depths of the Greek underground with their own brand of Hellenic metal. Adding to this multicultural experience, the Israeli band Melechesh supports the Greeks on the Apostles of Darkness tour, along with the Polish satanists of Hate. Representing the younger generation of metal, the new lineup of Abigail Williams showcases their new sound. Helping to bring some Southern brutality to the lineup, local Carolina bands Lecherous Nocturne and Morose Vitality complete the bill. $20/ 7 p.m. —Jonathan Newman
04.09 SKULL DEFEKTS @ NIGHTLIGHT
Swedish quartet Skull Defekts have made taut post-punk and challenging noise rock for half a decade, but by enlisting former Lungfish singer Daniel Higgs to front their new album, Peer Amid, they've leapt a few levels. With Higgs howling and ranting over the band's sharpest, most insistent songs, perennials like The Ex and The Fall meet a new challenger to their thrones. The competition is a fun sort, too—there's an instant catharsis to Peer Amid that's summed in Higgs album-closing chant of "Join the true/ Easy to do." In a bonus for Lungfish fans, Higgs' former bandmate Asa Osborne opens with his hypnotic organ-and-beats project, Zomes. $8/ 10 p.m. —Marc Masters
04.10 J. MASCIS, KURT VILE AND THE VIOLATORS @ CAT'S CRADLE
Later this year, J. Mascis will tour with his body-of-volume, heart-of-hooks band Dinosaur Jr, playing the band's classic third album, Bug, from start to finish. Let's consider this the quiet before the quake. Here, Mascis goes it alone, drawing largely from his brilliant new solo album, Several Shades of Why. Those perfect melodies Mascis has made so long get the spotlight they've often deserved, strummed by the heavy hand of their surprisingly gentle frontman. Kurt Vile & The Violators—sonic cousins of and collaborators with The War on Drugs, simply with a sharper focus—open. $16–$18/ 9 p.m. —Grayson Currin
04.13 LUEGO, THE TOMAHAWKS @ MOTORCO
"Springtime is coming. We want to open the doors and windows to the world so that they can see how great this scene is," proclaims Luego's Patrick Phelan, who's taking on his month as artist in residence at Motorco with ambition and focus, running each Sunday brunch and Wednesday evening. For Wednesday slots like this, Phelan handpicks a band to share the bill. This week's feature, The Tomahawks, fill the slot with soulful roots and rock 'n' roll gusto. Luego will also be testing out some new material before hitting the studio later this spring. Beloved Raleigh whistling champion Tony Woodward hosts. Free/ 8 p.m. —Ashley Melzer
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13
ANNE MCCUEFrom: Australia
Anne McCue got her start in Aussie female hard rock band Girl Monster, then played in all-girl trio Eden AKA before embarking on a solo career in 1999. She was immediately championed by Lucinda Williams, earning cred and a tour support slot. While there's a gritty country-blues undercurrent to some of McCue's music, it's balanced by polished contemporary pop. She's got the chops and swagger for a hard-nosed sound, but she lacks the killer instinct. Instead you get a sturdy, eclectic hand that too often tries to court fans of more generic music. At THE POUR HOUSE. $12/ 9 p.m.
JUKEBOX THE GHOSTFrom: Washington, D.C.
You're hard-pressed to discount the energy Jukebox the Ghost brings to their music. There's a rollicking vibrancy to the trio's two albums that backhands you like Moe does Larry and Curly. Though the arrangements grow grand at times, any pretense is diffused by the bounding melodies and clever lyrics. It's not even so much what singer/pianist Ben Thornewill sings as how his wheedling delivery captures the earnest naveté that powers artists from Jonathan Richman to OK Go.There's plenty to like about Jukebox, but they fail to transcend the style they're biting. With Tereu Tereu. At LOCAL 506. $8–$10/ 9:30p.m.
OLD 97SFrom: Dallas
Not too long ago, the Old 97s appeared headed for a ditch. Bandleader Rhett Miller had already leapt into a solo career, and the vehicle was faltering behind two middling-to-weak albums since leaving the majors after 2001's Satellite Rides. It seemed like Miller was saving his best material for his solo discs. But 2007's unpleasant sessions for (the disappointing) Blame It on Gravity gave the band CPR, and they returned last year with the first of two albums recorded at the Grande Theatre. The first album showcases a revitalized crew bringing more purpose and skill to bear than anything they've done in more than a decade. This second wind allows them to wrestle the overmatched McCue to the mat, while battering the off-beat Jukebox boys with their rock punch. With Teddy Thompson. At CAT'S CRADLE. $18–$20/ 8:45p.m. —Chris Parker
04.08 THE FOOLIGANS @ NIGHTLIGHT
"I've had kind of a vendetta against local musicians for a long time, so I placed myself in opposition, I think to my own detriment," admits Ian Leinbaugh, who plays guitar and sings for The Fooligans. Leinbaugh, who grew up in Carrboro, explains it as a gut reaction to a middle school experience of "quiet, artsy" indie kids needling him for his lack of music cool. That need to prove himself likely led him to study music at UNC, where he decided to start his own rock band. His mind has changed.
"I've just really kind of fallen in love with a lot of the local music around here," he says. "It's definitely been a drive for me just to create something that is different from everything else." The band released its first record, the Greg Humphreys-produced Love Songs for the Apocalypse, last fall and has been through a few evolutions in sound and lineup since then. The current crew—Leinbaugh, bassist John Colvin, drummer Neil Colvin—deliver their take on pop/rock anthems with a bit of punk snarl. "Basically, we've just tried to write exactly what we feel like, which is trying to be as true to ourselves as possible." says Leinbaugh. $6/ 10 p.m. —Ashley Melzer